When you apply for a job, how much experience you have is often one of the biggest determining factors in whether you get hired. For many employers, experience has become even more important moving into 2023. More employers are willing to overlook educational requirements in favor of experienced employees.
Workers generally require a great deal of experience before being able to obtain a dream job. In order to get the necessary experience, you need to be careful with your job selections. With some careers, you must hold your job for years before employers consider you experienced enough.
If you know in advance you want to build experience so you can apply for your dream job, there are a few tricks you can use to speed up the process. The quicker you develop experience, the sooner you can apply for your dream job. The sections below go over strategies for acquiring your experience as quickly as possible.
Create a Career Plan
Before you start getting experience, you need to create a career plan. A career plan acts as the blueprints to get to your dream job. This step is important because, without a clear plan, you do not know what kind of experience is required for your job. Make sure you look at the necessary experience for each job leading up to your dream job. There may be prerequisite jobs with different experience requirements from the job you are striving for.
Ideally, you can find replacements for these prerequisite jobs, so you do not need to acquire unnecessary experience. Building a career plan also lets you find out how important each type of experience is for your dream job. Once you know what you are getting into, you can build the quickest path to your dream career. When you create your career plan make sure you also include the following:
- Educational requirements.
- Amount of experience required, including how many years you are expected to hold a position to qualify for the next step in your career plan.
- Experience milestone goals that let you determine whether you are on track for your career goal.
One of the most overlooked ways to develop work experience is through volunteering. On its own, volunteering is an excellent resume booster. Volunteering shows you are a hard worker who cares about the community. Volunteering is also a good way to build a professional network, as many businesses work with local nonprofit groups. Additionally, you also run across fellow volunteers who may have connections in your chosen industry.
The type of experience you get from volunteer work varies on the nonprofit groups in your area, as well as the type of volunteer work you select. Do not discount how much experience you can get from volunteering. Even if you are interested in an office job, there are many volunteer positions where you focus on administrative tasks like filing and accounting. Many volunteer positions also require management and leadership experience, which many high-paying jobs include as requirements.
In addition to providing practical experience, volunteering helps during job interviews. Many interviewers ask questions regarding challenges you had to overcome. You can use your volunteering experiences to answer these questions and impress your interviewer.
Internships are one of the fastest ways to gain workplace experience. A common misconception is internships only provide basic experience, like performing menial office tasks. These are only the most basic types of internships.
In fact, the purpose of internships is to prepare future employees, meaning you can find more advanced internships to build experience. For example, if your dream job is in the field of science, look for an internship at a lab. If you want to become an architect, consider getting an engineering-related internship.
Related Article: Internships: Not Just for the Young
One of the advantages of an internship is it shows job recruiters you have the exact experience and training necessary to fulfill the job. It also shows your interest and dedication to the career. Additionally, working as an intern signals that you are willing to do any necessary on-the-job training. This is important, as many high-ranking jobs require additional training on top of experience.
Networking is important no matter what job you are interested in. Your professional network refers to your work contacts, including previous coworkers, managers and clients. There are two ways you can quickly develop experience through networking.
The first option is to find a job with the experience you require from one of your professional contacts. The second way is much more lucrative but requires a strong network. If you know someone in your dream industry who is willing to speak on your behalf, his or her recommendation may allow you to bypass some of the experience requirements for your desired job.
This option only works if the individual in your network has enough influence. For example, a college professor can recommend you for a lab job based on how well you did during class, or a past employer could recommend you for a management job based on how well you did leading team projects. If this happens, expect your employer to hold you to a higher standard because of how highly you were recommended.
Look for Alternatives
Many high-ranking jobs have educational requirements in addition to experience. However, you do not always need a degree in order to get these jobs. It helps to think of the educational requirement as a baseline. Look at what skills are actually necessary from the desired degree, then look for certification classes providing similar skills. For most employers, as long as you have the necessary skills, it does not matter if you have a degree.
Similarly, there are some job requirements you can avoid if you worked a similar position. For example, working as an EMT may allow you to get a job where nursing experience is listed as a requirement. If you are unsure whether your skills transfer, you should still submit your resume.
In the event that you are called in for an interview, be prepared to answer questions regarding the qualifications. Then, if you are contacted, it is a good indicator your potential employer considers your skills equivalent, as they would not call you for an interview just to say you lack the necessary qualifications.
Related Article: How to Get a Job Without Any Experience
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